Sayain: Tewa Women United’s Circle of Grandmothers

To be a SayaaIn recaptures my childhood memories of my village full of SayaaIn, each one bearing gifts. To listen, to be THERE, to guide, guard, love. Now it’s my task to share those gifts to be remembered and rekindled in the future.
– Rachele Agoyo

If you’ve come to a TWU event or workshop, you may have noticed the presence of our beloved elders in the circle – always there, in the background and sometimes in the lead, supporting with love and wisdom.

The Circle of Grandmothers – Sayain in Tewa – is the nurturing breath that infuses and inspires the work of Tewa Women United. This inter-tribal, multicultural circle of women are either grandmothers themselves or supportive elders.

Sayain provide spiritual grounding and cultural guidance to the whole Tewa Women United community – staff, board, and program participants. Their presence reminds us how the reciprocity of inter-generational learning and sharing strengthens individuals, families, and communities.

On any given day, you’ll find Sayain creating healing gifts for trauma survivors (often pouches of lavender and other herbs), organizing and helping at community education sessions, hosting inter-generational support groups, and sharing knowledge of traditional language, arts. and practices.

As Beata Tsosie-Peña, coordinator of TWU’s Environmental Health and Justice Program says, “Beloved Tsaya In’, thankful for all these powerful women in my life who are there to guide our work, share wisdom and support. My heart is full when I’m with them. Make no mistake, they are fierce community activists and organizers!”

What it means to be a Saya (grandmother) in the Circle of Grandmothers (Sayain)

I have totally embraced my age of reflective thinking.  I have always been an introvert and have great conversations with Creator and our ancestors for a long time. But I have never really shared such conversations with fear I might be deemed crazy. And when I do share, I am so far out that others really do not  get it.

But now 30 years later, I can share thoughts and prayers and not care if others get it or not. I love the slowness of time and I can go where I find myself to be. I love the laughter and joy sharing time with others. And now maybe I have some wisdom to share with the conversations at hand.

Grandmothers, young and older have spirits of earthen connections to other avenues of supporting each other. I love the ways of spontaneity. These times call for Sayain to be aware of so many aspects of lived narratives in contemporary times.

-Elder Kathy Sanchez


Your donation helps to sustain our Sayain and all our work to help promote peace and love in beloved communities. 

Tewa Women United is a 501(c)3 and your donation is tax-deductible. 100% of your online contribution goes directly to TWU, thanks to the generosity of First Nations Development Institute.